End of era for Barcelona

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Messi looks dejected after rampant Bayern Munich demolished Barcelona. Picture: Manu Fernandez/Pool via REUTERS
Messi looks dejected after rampant Bayern Munich demolished Barcelona. Picture: Manu Fernandez/Pool via REUTERS

SPORT


Following their 8-2 demolition of Barcelona on Friday night, Bayern Munich go into the semi-finals as favourites to lift this year’s Uefa Champions League trophy.

This was a grand statement by the German giants – one of only two clubs still in the competition who have won their domestic championship. And they are now the team to beat going into the semis as they await the winner of last night’s game between Olympique Lyon and Manchester City.

Bayern joined their countrymen RB Leipzig and French champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the semi-finals.

If they continue from where they left off on Friday night, they will be on their way to the final in Lisbon, Portugal.

Bayern were in rampant form on Friday night, handing Barcelona their heaviest defeat in the European cup competitions.

The 8-2 hammering by the Bundesliga side was also the highest score in the Champions League knockout stage and earned Bayern the tag as favourites for this year’s title.

READ: Barça’s Arturo Vidal blows own trumpet ahead of Bayern clash

The result mirrored Germany’s 7-1 humiliation of Brazil in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Belo Horizonto. But Thomas Müller, one of the star players in both games, said there was a big difference.

"No, it was not really the same. Against Brazil, we were not really that much in control," Müller said after the game.

"Against Brazil, it happened. But against Barcelona, we wanted to dominate from the beginning with our kind of football.

"That had much more to do with us than it did with that game with Brazil. We were simply brutally dominant, especially against the ball,"” he said.

PSG, whose owners are hoping to finally climb to the summit of European football after investing millions into the team, needed a dramatic injury time two-goal haul to overcome stiff opposition from Italy’s Atalanta in a 2-1 win.

Leipzig also needed a last-gasp winner against Atlético Madrid on Thursday night. Dani Olmo scored the opening goal for the Bundesliga side shortly after the restart and were looking on course for their first semi-final in the Champions League before Portuguese wunderkind João Félix equalised from the penalty spot.

Then 21-year-old American midfielder Tyler Adams scored the dramatic winner for the Germans with one minute to go, prompting coach Julian Nagelsmann to say they were now hoping for more.

"It goes without saying that we now also want to advance to the final, but we have a huge task facing us," he said.

Leipzig take on PSG in Tuesday’s semifinal, while Bayern meet the winner of last night’s game between Lyon and Manchester City on Wednesday.

Nagelsmann said he was looking forward to seeing his team play against a team such as PSG, who have stars Kylian Mbappé and Neymar in their ranks.

"That is a great team. I hope that I will again have one or two good ideas and we play a good match."

What make Leipzig’s success even more remarkable is that they are playing without Timo Werner, their former star who opted to be available for his new team Chelsea’s preseason training, rather than play in the short Champions League mini tournament.

 In the Europa League, the first semi-final is being played on Sunday (21:00) between Sevilla and Manchester United.

The sole Spanish club remaining in Europe needed a Lucas Ocampos header two minutes from time against Wolves, while United had even bigger trouble overcoming stiff opposition from FC Copenhagen, winning 1-0 in extra time.

It is United’s third semi-final this season, having already lost in the last four of both the League Cup and the FA Cup.

The Reds’ coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær has said that three semi-final appearances were not good enough.

"Let’s see if we’ve developed throughout the season because we’ve had two semi-finals before. We want to go to the next step," Solskjær said.

READ: Six Barcelona directors quit, Catalan club in crisis

"Semi-finals, that’s a good effort, decent but it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for Man United still. The team have been developing, getting more and more hungry.

"Let’s make sure that hurt that we felt in both the other cups that we’ve gone out, that can be our maybe marginal difference. The difference that we want it more than them."

The Norwegian still has an outstanding debt with Sevilla, having lost against them in the knock-out stage of the 2015/16 Europa League competition while he was still coaching Molde.

"They beat us 3-0 away, we beat them 2-0 in Molde, so I’ve got something that I need to sort out with them," Solskjær said.

The other Europa League semi-final sees Inter Milan take on Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.


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